The globalization of health care affects the lives of numerous “participants” in health care. First, it profoundly affects patients because they can access care that is not available in their home countries, so it can have a life-changing impact on families. It is creating new industries and careers such as medical tourism facilitators. In the U.S., there is no national health system, so most people have private insurance provided by their employers as an employment benefit. Medical tourism therefore affects U.S. employers and insurance companies, some of whom are in the process of evolving their health plans. Finally, medical tourism affects providers in high cost “home” countries because it introduces new competitors, especially for certain types of procedures. In low cost provider countries, medical tourism is enabling vast new industries, often with active participation of governments. When an industry globalizes, it becomes transformed, which affects its participants in different ways.
The Globalization of Healthcare Participants pages delve into more detail into each participant type, and numerous links are provided for further reading.